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CODE 98248
  • 5 cfu during the 2nd year of 10720 ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING (LM-35) - GENOVA
    LANGUAGE English
  • SEMESTER 1° Semester
    MODULES This unit is a module of:



    Introduce students to the fundamental aspects of marine biodiversity management and conservation, with specific focus on biodiversity definition and measurement, ecosystem status evaluation, biodiversity maintenance and restoration of marine resources.


    The teaching provides the elements for defining and analysing biodiversity of the marine environment, offering an overview on its complexity and high biodiversity. It aims at explaining how marine biodiversity has to be managed and conserved, how biodiversity can be assessed and measured, also using ecological indices, and how biodiversity and marine resources can be mainteined and restored, also through the marine spatial planning. The hotspots of marine biodivesity are discussed, with a specific focus on the priority habitats listed in the European Directives, such as seagrass meadows, lagoons and estuaries, rocky reefs, submerged marine caves, and deep habitats.

    In particular the teaching illustrates: i) the various definitions and concepts of biodiversity; ii) the study methods and the tools used in the field to measure biodiversity; iii) the strategies for biodiversity conservation; iv) the importance of marine environmental monitoring and ecosystem status evaluation.



    The teaching consists of lectures and exercises done in the classroom.
    Lectures in the classroom are delivered through multimedia presentations. As there is no reference text adopted, class attendance is strongly recommended. The student can make use of the material made available on Aulaweb. For the first semester, classes will be carried out if possible in the presence, however guaranteeing the fruition of the lessons even remotely, through video recording, synchronous or asynchronous. All face-to-face activities will be carried out in compliance with the capacity limits of the classrooms and the distance provided for by the current legislation following the emergency COVID19.

    Exercises are carried out regularly in the classroom for the application of the acquired knowledge, attendance at lectures and exercises is thus strongly recommended. The exercises also constitute a self-evaluation test. The exercises will be organized possibly in the presence, and eventually with multiple shifts.

    Please refer to the specific AulaWeb application for this teaching for any updates due to changes in the health and epidemiological situation.


    The program of the teaching is the following:

    1. Concept and definitions of Biodiversity. Taxonomic diversity. Functional diversity. Other kind of diversity. Conservation and sustainable development.

    2. Historical aspects of biodiversity.

    3. Hypotheses on the causes of marine diversity. Factors that favor diversity.

    4. Hypotheses on the role of biodiversity in the functioning of ecosystems. Relationship between biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystems.

    5. Measurement of diversity. Methods and indices. α, β and γ diversity. Examples of sampling procedures and cases of study.

    6. Conservation of marine biodiversity. Species and habitats. Key species concept. Endangered species, threatened species, endemic species. Rarity. Vulnerability. Extinctions. Ecology of change. Reference conditions and the shifting baselines syndrome.

    7. Characterization and evaluation of the state of marine ecosystems: semiotics and environmental diagnostics. Biological indicators and ecological indices. Ecotoxicology. Biomarker concept. Sentinel organisms. Opportunistic species, indicator species and techniques based on community structure. Trophic status indicators.

    8. Concept of biocenosis. Criteria to identify biocenosis. Non-taxonomic descriptors. Definition of community. Definition of association.

    9. Alternatives to the concept of biocenosis. Ecological groups and guilds.

    10. Seascape concept and applicability to the marine environment. Importance of scuba diving and underwater visual surveys. Marine spatial planning.

    11. Qualification and definition of marine seascapes. Bionomic approach, principles and aims of bionomic cartography. Tradition in the Mediterranean: the French school. Meaning and use of the diachronic cartography.

    12. Identification of assemblages units. The EUNIS classification (European Union Nature Information System). Classification of marine habitats by UNEP/RAC-SPA (Regional Activity Center for Specially Protected Areas).

    13. Evaluation of the state of the marine environment and of its biodiversity. Geographic Information Systems and their use for the analysis and management of the marine seascapes. European Directives for the protection and management of the marine environment, the Water Framework Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Seafloor Integrity concept. Restoration of marine habitats.

    14. Habitat approach, with particular reference to marine habitats of conservation interest in the European Union.

    15. Seagrasses and the Mediterranean Posidonia oceanica meadows.

    16. Estuaries and lagoons.

    17. Rocky reefs and coral reefs.

    18. Submerged or semi-submerged marine caves.

    19: Deep habitats and detritic bottoms.


    The adoption of a reference text is not envisaged. Available (downloadable from Aulaweb) a copy of the presentations used during classes, other material and scientific articles for further information. The teaching material is therefore made up of personal notes and the material available on Aulaweb.


    Exam Board

    BRUNO FABIANO (President)





    MONICA MONTEFALCONE (President Substitute)



    Classes for the first semester will start on 21 September 2020 and will finish on 22 January 2021.

    Consult detailed timetable at the following link:

    Class schedule

    All class schedules are posted on the EasyAcademy portal.



    The final evaluation is made by an oral exam.

    The exam will start with the exposition of a topic chosen by the student (among the topics covered during classes or with the exposition of a scientific article provided in the material for further study on Aulaweb), and will continue with other 2/3 questions asked by the teacher on topics covered during classes.

    Two exams will be available in the winter session (January-February) and four exams in the summer session (June, July, and September).

    Please refer to the specific AulaWeb application for this teaching for any updates due to changes in the health and epidemiological situation.


    Details on how to prepare for the exam and the degree of detail required for each topic will be provided at the beginning of the course and confirmed during the classes. The oral exam will mainly focus on the topics covered during the lectures and will aim to assess the achievement of the appropriate level of knowledge. The ability to present the topics clearly and using a correct and scientific terminology will also be evaluated. The oral exam starts from a topic chosen by the student or from the critical report on a scientific article (among those provided and available on Aulaweb) to evaluate the ability to understand a scientific text dealing with marine biodiversity management and conservation and to elaborate the information based on the knowledge of the subjects, and on the ability to link the various topics for the application aspects. The completeness and correctness of the exercises proposed during classes will also be positively evaluated to those who will have done and will take them during the exam.


    Exam schedule

    Date Time Location Type Notes
    18/01/2021 09:30 GENOVA Orale
    03/02/2021 09:30 GENOVA Orale
    08/04/2021 09:30 GENOVA Orale
    23/06/2021 09:30 GENOVA Orale
    15/07/2021 09:30 GENOVA Orale
    08/09/2021 09:30 GENOVA Orale


    Regular attendance to classes is strongly recommended as a reference text is not used for this teaching. Furthermore, in the classroom, practical exercises will be carried out to verify the understanding of the concepts and topics explained during classes.